Promises push for neo-middle class that has evolved in the State in the past 10 years
Aware that most of its votes in the Assembly elections will come from urban residents and the youth, the Bharatiya Janata Party has offered a slew of promises to these segments in its manifesto, which Chief Minister Narendra Modi released here on Monday.
Saying his party’s manifesto was not a bunch of election-eve announcements but a commitment, Mr. Modi said: “A neo-middle class has evolved in the State during the past 10 years, which just needs a little push to grow to exponential levels.”
He said his government would set up a special committee to identify this neo-middle class and work out special schemes for its all-round growth.
Gujarat’s urban population has grown rapidly to reach 43 per cent, surpassing even the national average of 32 per cent. This development has taken a toll on the rural masses and put unprecedented pressure on the social and physical infrastructure of the cities. But the manifesto is largely silent on this aspect.
Mr. Modi said his government would come up with a special youth policy aimed not only at “developing youth but at harnessing a youth-led development.” To facilitate development of skills in a big way, the government would set up a skill development corporation and skill development university, a promise, if carried through, will make Gujarat the only State to boast such services.
He promised to set up a network of hostels in urban areas for 40,000 higher education students, and launch a scholarship scheme for those pursuing higher education and one to generate jobs for over 30 lakh youths. Among other things, Mr. Modi said, his government would act as a guarantor for youths seeking loans for self-employment.
It is clear the Chief Minister has not missed out on the fact that a whopping 2.05 crore voters are in the age group of 20-39 and one crore, aged 20-29. It is not without reason that Mr. Modi hopped on to Google Hangout — the first politician to do so — and is quite active on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. He began his campaign with the Swami Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra that covered 117 of the 182 seats.
Though the manifesto, like the BJP’s list of candidates, has no promise for the minorities, Mr. Modi said the document was sarva-sparshi, sarva-vyapi, sarva-samaveshiya and sarva-priya (all-inclusive).
But the manifesto does refer to cow protection and creation of a ‘sant nagri’ (saint city) in the honour of India’s great saints. It also promises to develop ‘Sri Ram Pagdandi’ in the tribal region of Dangs, where, according to mythology, Lord Rama had stayed some time.